Latvija in brief - 2008-10-01

  • 2008-10-01
Stranda Baltic Co. is planning to sell carrots instead of unhealthy snacks from vending machines in Latvia's schools. The initiative has already received backing from the nutrition council of the Latvian Health Ministry. The price of the carrots has not been decided, but it may be 10-15 santims (0.14-0.21 euros) per package of 80-90 grams. Carrots are the only vegetables in current plans, as they are the only product sold by Stranda Baltic, but other vegetables could be added later.

A Sept. 26 protest by the Latvian Joint Police Union outside the Ministry of the Interior disbanded peacefully after the ministry's secretary promised the protesters he had their best interests at heart. Union head Agris Suna told LETA that he did not foresee a satisfactory response to the nine demands and grievances the union submitted. Suna said the protest had been merely a "dress rehearsal" for a larger action planned for Oct. 4.

Somali pirates who hijacked a Ukrainian freighter carrying 2,230 tons of military equipment to Kenya are demanding $35 million for the return of the ship and its 21 crew members, one of whom is Latvian. The cargo includes T-72 battle tanks, grenade launchers and ammunition. The pirates say they will negotiate the ransom with the Kenyan government, and a Ukrainian official said that his country is willing to provide assistance in the matter.

Foreign spies have tried to recruit employees of the Latvian Defense Ministry in order to obtain classified information, but so far these attempts have been unsuccessful, Latvia's Neatkariga Rita Avize daily reports. When asked if there have been attempts by foreign intelligence services in recent years to recruit ministry officials who have access to secret data, Defense Ministry State Secretary Edgars Rinkevics replied in the affirmative, though he declined to reveal which countries had made the attempts.

Latvian ex-president Vaira Vike-Freiberga may start teaching her first full courses at the University of Latvia from the next semester, staring in February 2009. The former president is currently preparing to sign a contract with the university's Faculty of Philology and Arts. Vike-Freiberga might start teaching at the university as a visiting lecturer in her fields of academic research -- mythology and Latvian folklore. Professor Vike-Freiberga is expected to deliver her lectures to students working towards their bachelor, masters and doctoral degrees.

Latvia has been fully prepared for soon introduction of the visa-free regime with the US, according to U.S. Ambassador to Latvia Charles W. Larson. The agreement on enforcing cooperation in preventing and combating severe crimes was signed completing the technical negotiations on introduction of the visa-free regime with the U.S. Larson thanked the Latvian government and the Foreign Ministry for the quick work in completing the technical issues for introduction of the visa-free regime. He said soon electronic registration of travellers will be introduced, helping to determine whether Latvian residents travelling to the United States are observing the travel terms. Latvian Interior Minister, Mareks Seglins, who signed the agreement on the Latvian part, said the United States has always been a friend to Latvia and the signed agreement is a proof for good cooperation.